What’s Making Me Happy: March 2017 (Plus, I’m on Hiatus Until April 18th)

The best way to describe my March 2017 would be “a month of two parts.” (Did anyone catch the nod to the Kingkiller Chronicle prologues? *wink*) The first half was still stressful and discouraging like February had been, partly because I was still dealing with anxiety flare-ups. But after taking active steps to better manage my anxiety (including resuming my writing routine), and thanks to the knowledge that spring is here (YAY!), the second half of the month was more productive and meditative. Oh, and busy with final preparations for the Iceland Writers Retreat! I can’t believe it’s NEXT WEEK!! 😀

And now that I think about it, this month’s edition of What’s Making Me Happy reflects that mix of excitement, relaxation, and creativity. So let me share my March joys with you, and feel free to share yours in your comments.

I Learned Some Icelandic

With the Iceland Writers Retreat coming up, I started “teaching myself” some Icelandic. (By “teaching myself,” I mean watching YouTube videos, such as the one above, that instruct on Icelandic and reading about the alphabet, pronunciations, etc.) I’ve stuck with terms that might be important for tourists to know. It’s mostly out of curiosity, but if I have the opportunity to use some words or phrases during my trip, it will be worth a try.

If you’re not familiar with Icelandic: It’s similar to other North Germanic languages like Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish, but because of Iceland’s geographic isolation, their language evolved differently and retains the grammar and conjugations found in Old Norse. Also, many Icelandic sounds and some of its letters don’t appear in the English language. So, from that angle, Icelandic is one of the most challenging languages for native English speakers to learn. But once you grasp how certain characters or diphthongs are spoken, it starts to flow more smoothly.

So, who wants to learn some Icelandic? Here are a few basics, along with pronunciations:

  • Hello: Halló (“hah-low”)
  • Goodbye: Bless bless (exactly as read)
  • Thank you: Takk fyrir (“tahk fih-rihr”)
  • Please: Icelandic doesn’t have an equivalent to “please,” but vinsamlegast (“vihn-sahm-leh-gahst”) is the most recommended term for beginning speakers.
  • What is your name?: Hvað heitir þú? (“Kvahth hey-tihr-thoo?”)
  • My name is…: Ég heiti… (“Yeh hey-ti…”)
  • Do you speak English?: Talarðu ensku? (“Tah-lahr-thoo ehn-skoo?”)

I’m Catching Up on “Black Sails”

How many of you are fans of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (or, at least the first film)? Then if you aren’t watching “Black Sails” yet, you’re missing out. This swashbuckling show set during the Golden Age of Piracy serves as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island and features fictional storylines of real-life pirates such as Anne Bonny, Charles Vane, and Blackbeard. Think PotC meets Game of Thrones, minus the dragons and magic but complete with political machinations, sharp wit, and (*ahem*) mature content. So it’s not for the faint-of-heart, but if you enjoy great acting, tropical locales, and – of course – pirates, then “Black Sails” might just hoist your sails.

Thanks to OnDemand viewing, I’ve finished Season 1 of “Black Sails” and have three more to go. The only downside? The show’s fourth / current season is its last. 😦  You can catch it if you have STARZ here in the States. I wasn’t able to find whether the show is airing in other countries, though. If you also watch “Black Sails” and live outside the U.S., let me know where and how you watch it so I can add that info here.

I Started Using Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

I’d been meaning to try aromatherapy at home for a while. And then between this DIY MFA article, advice from my yoga instructor, and my recent stress and anxiety, I finally dove into the practice. So far I’ve kept it simple, using lavender oil in this nifty fan-powered diffuser when I’m writing on my computer, reading, or journaling. The results have already been wonderful: Not only does the lavender help me relax (not to mention it smells soooo pretty *big smiles*), but the strength of the fragrance that the diffuser emits is light, not overpowering.

So I’m definitely going to try more essential oils in the near future. I have some recommendations from people I know who already use aromatherapy. Plus, I bought a book on the subject (see the image above) for further study, and I might try diluting the lavender or other oils in water to make a spray mist. In the meantime, have you also tried aromatherapy? If so, which oils worked best for you?

I’m Listening to Early Cross’s Pathfinder

Funny how my writing projects can influence my music choices. Early Cross is a Japanese band I had the pleasure of reviewing (and discovering) when I was freelancing for Sonic Cathedral in 2013. I hadn’t listened to their album Pathfinder in quite some time, until a recent brainstorming / character-building session “begged” me to put Early Cross on the playlist.

Early Cross call their music “landscape rock.” I’d describe it further as a blend of progressive rock and metal with a focus on ethereal female vocals, mature songwriting, and contrasts between acoustic and electric. Some songs are dark and foreboding; others are more rhythmic or atmospheric. Or, maybe I should just quote part of my review of Pathfinder: “[The] vocals, … guitarwork, the contrasts between the organic and synthesized sounds, and the wandering yet purposeful nature of each track show just how important good songwriting and thoughtful execution can be in making music.”

For a taste of Early Cross’s music, check out the YouTube video for “Hymn to the Fallen” above. You can also visit Early Cross’s Bandcamp page to listen to an album sampler.

I’m Sipping Aloe Serenity Green Tea from Spice Merchants

I recently bought some Spice Merchant teas for a friend’s birthday gift and decided to treat myself to one as well. Aloe Serenity is a green tea blend with rose petals, inulin powder (a natural fiber found in artichokes, chicory roots, and other plant products), and aloe vera. It might sound like a weird mix, but the result is nothing short of lovely. It’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and the fragrance is floral, slightly fruity (pineapple is the first fruit that comes to mind, and soothing. All of these qualities are reflected in the brew, too, along with a beautiful, silky texture that’s undoubtedly from the aloe vera.

If you’re looking for a green tea that’s more delicate and not so grassy-tasting, then Aloe Serenity might be for you. Click here to visit the tea’s page on Spice Merchants’ website.

Finally, I’m on Hiatus Until Tuesday, April 18th

Since the Iceland Writers Retreat and my upcoming travels will keep me busy, I’m going to take a 2-week blogging hiatus. This means that the next post here will go live after the Easter holidays, on Tuesday, April 18th. I might have some time before and after the trip to catch up on comments, read friends’ blogs, and make the rounds on social media.

Speaking of which: I’ll also be away from social media for most of the trip, though I might sneak on to share a photo or two. So feel free to follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook if you haven’t yet. (I do have an author page on Facebook, but I’m currently taking a break from it.)

Finally,  to everyone who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign: Thank you so, SO much for helping to make this trip financially in reach for me. More people submitted donations over the past few weeks, and since I’m shutting the page down tomorrow, the campaign will end with about $2564 USD raised. This covers all of the registration / hotel accommodation costs and a bit of the airfare, and I can definitely afford the rest (remaining airfare, meals, transportation to and from airports, and other incidentals). But this really wouldn’t have been possible without your support and encouragement. 🙂

Until next time, Hoppy Easter (to those who celebrate it), and have a safe and beautiful first few weeks of spring!

What were some of the things that made you happy in March? 

49 thoughts on “What’s Making Me Happy: March 2017 (Plus, I’m on Hiatus Until April 18th)

  1. Spring really has a way of making the world seem right again.
    I’m in love with essential oils. I started my small collection of Young Living oils in December and I think I use them almost every day. One of my favorites for writing is lavender with tangerine or orange. It’s a blend of the relaxing ability from the lavender plus the citrus is good for creativity. The fragrance just makes me happy. I use it in a diffuser that sounds like the one you use.
    Enjoy your trip! My recommendation, take something like vitamin C or Airborne on your trip so you don’t get sick. Traveling can really bring down the immune system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spring really does have that power. I think it’s partly because of what it represents: growth, rebirth, life – because all of that happens during this season. It’s a beautiful, colorful, refreshing time of year.

      I’ve heard that citrus is helpful for creativity, along with a few others (though I can’t remember what they are right now). I’m actually attending a workshop tomorrow night that mixes yoga exercise with essential oils education. So I’m really looking forward to that.

      Thank you!! Iceland was amazing – actually, more like AMAAAAAZING. 🙂 I saw your comment before I left, so I picked up some Vitamin C chewables for the trip. They must have helped, since I didn’t get sick!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m excited to hear about your trip, especially since it sounds like it went so well! And I’m hugely relieved to hear you didn’t get sick. It’s so miserable to have a great trip just to return home and get sick.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I had an incredible time over there. Now I’m getting used to being back in my normal routine (I’ve been home since Sunday night, went back to work today). But the stories and photo-sharing will come soon. 😉


  2. Have a fantastic retreat, Sara… though I’m sure you don’t need my encouragemnet about it 😉

    I think Icelandic is one of the most fascinating languages ever. Truth, i know it mostly through names of historical people and mythic heros, but that’s enough for me. I mean, the sound of it! Awesome. Just awesome and I’m in awe that you’re trying to learn it.

    So what can I say? I hope you’ll obsessively share everything you’re experience with us. I just can’t wait to hear the entire story and see the entire gallery of photoes. Because, boy, I’ve never been to Iceland, but what I’ve seen in photos and on tv bewitched me for life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Sarah, Iceland was AMAAAAAZING. 😀 And there’s so much to tell about the retreat and the trip in general that it could take hours to go over all of it. *lol* It might take some time for the sharing of stories and photos, since I’m still getting back into my normal routine. (And, um, I took 300+ photos while I was there. *jaw drops*) But it will start happening soon, I promise.

      Doesn’t Icelandic sound incredible? It’s challenging, too, though it gets a little easier once you learn how the vowels and diphthongs are pronounced. I didn’t use a lot of Icelandic when I was there, though, mostly because so many Icelanders speak and understand English quite well; and in many places, English translations to Icelandic signs are already provided. But I did make a point to thank Icelanders in their native tongue.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Have a wonderful time in Iceland. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back:). It’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to go, so I’ll be fascinated to hear what you make of it. As for what made me happy in March – definitely Himself’s diagnosis for sleep apnea, given how severe it is. I’m now finding it difficult to sleep because it’s too quiet! But I’m sure that will pass. In the meantime, take care:).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVED IT. 😀 I came home Sunday night, so I’m still getting used to being back home. But I’m so, so thankful I went, and for so many reasons. 🙂

      How are you and your husband doing with his sleep apnea now? It’s been a couple weeks since his diagnosis, so hopefully you both are getting more sleep now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m delighted that it went so well – I’ve been thinking of you:)). As regards the sleep apnea – J returns to the hospital tomorrow for the results of the blood test and to swap his diagnosis machine for another one. I’ve now settled down and am sleeping a lot better – I’m now getting used to the quiet!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. First of all, good luck at the Iceland Writers Retreat! Icelandic looks like a fascinating (and tough) language to learn. And yay for Black Sails! Love that show- although I haven’t seen any of the new season as of yet.

    Safe travels and hope it’s a fantastic event!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Greg! It was an incredible trip, both on the creative and cultural-immersion fronts. I got home Sunday night, so I’m still getting back into a normal routine. But I loved every minute I was there. 🙂

      Icelandic really is challenging to learn, mainly because it uses so many sounds that aren’t part of the English language. I still trip over certain pronunciations, but once you know how certain vowels and diphthongs are pronounced, the syllables do fall into place a little more easily.

      I ended up not using much Icelandic while I was over there, btw. Many Icelanders speak and understand English quite well, so the language barrier wasn’t much of an issue. But I did make a point to thank people in their native tongue. 😉

      Yay for a Black Sails fan! I caught the finale before I left for Iceland… and I still have mixed feelings about it. But I’m looking forward to finishing Season 2 via OnDemand and watching all of Seasons 3 and 4 soon. Do you have a favorite character from the show?


      • I’m so glad the trip was a success. How exciting. I hope you share highlights of it at some point. As for Black Sails, I do have a few favorites. I like Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny- not only do I think they make an interesting couple, but they have so much potential and are probably the only comic relief in a show otherwise pretty tense (and I guess Jack is the comic relief- I don’t think Anne goofs around much). 🙂 I like Charles Vane too, and think he’s a fascinating character- ruthless and tough on one hand but there’s more to him that they hint at, I think.

        I have mixed feelings about Flint! And of course this all makes me very curious about the REAL life versions of these characters!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m definitely planning to. Haven’t figured out how I’ll cover it here on the blog, but I already have posts about it in the works for DIY MFA and Writers Helping Writers. 😉

        I actually like Flint. *lol* I think it’s just a fascination of how he oscillates between brilliance / humanity and madness. But I’m only halfway through Season 2, which has shed a lot of light on his past so far… and I don’t think they’ve finished that quite yet! And I agree, Jack Rackham can be hilarious. Silver has his moments, too, in Seasons 1 and 2, but I also know from later episodes that I’ve “sneaked a peek at” that his character evolves quite a bit later on.


  5. Anxiety can be so crippling, and certainly not pleasant. I’m glad you seem to be feeling better though. Spring definitely helps with that, i find. 😊 I hope you enjoy your trip to Iceland.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have fun in Iceland, Sara! I can’t wait to hear how it goes! ❤

    I wish it was spring here, but it is snowing outside as I'm writing this.
    That green tea sounds delicious, I'll have to try some. I'd also like to try aromatherapy but don't know much about it. Is the spray mist just what you put in a spray bottle? Do you use aromatherapy for an hour or can it be longer than that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was AMAAAAAZING. 😀 I’ve been home since Sunday night, so I’m still getting back into a normal routine and adjusting to my time zone. But gosh, I loved every minute of it. In fact, I’m seriously considering going back next year… 😉

      Yes, spray-mist aromatherapy goes in a spray bottle. I bought a small 2 oz bottle and diluted several drops of lavender oil with 2 oz of water. So now I can use it as a room spray, body mist, linen / pillow spray, etc. Length of time depends on the specific oils being used, their intended us, and the person using them. It’s best to follow the instructions that come on an essential oil’s bottle / container or general guidance from a book on essential oils. And with diffusers in particular, the scents / oils eventually evaporate, so they do need to be refilled or reapplied now and then.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so glad you’re still doing these posts! I’d love to link up again when I’m done with my hiatus.
    It’s so cool that you’re learning Icelandic. Thanks for the explanation into the challenges for English speakers.
    Have an AWESOME time– I can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, let’s definitely do that. 😉 When do you think you’ll return to blogging, by the way?

      Iceland was AMAZING. I’ve shared a few photos and posts about it on Facebook, but I savored every minute I was there. And I ended up not using a lot of Icelandic while I was there (most Icelanders speak and understand English quite well), though I did make a point of thanking people in their native language.


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    • It was AMAZING. I just got back on Sunday, and to make a long story short: I already want to go back. 🙂

      And yes, definitely watch Black Sails when you have a chance. The show’s finale aired a week or two ago, so if you’re the kind of TV watcher who prefers to watch shows from beginning to end, you have just 4 seasons to go through. 😉


      • Oh wow! Are you going to do a post on it? I’m considering to visit Iceland sometime next year. I heard that the tickets to there are cheap.
        Yup, I’ll have to binge-watch that show.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m in the middle of doing a general post about the retreat for DIY MFA, and I’ll do another one for Writers Helping Writers that will have a more craft-specific angle. I might do something here as well… but we’ll have to see. I want to finish the other two posts first, since both have deadlines.

        You can definitely get airfare to Iceland at a reasonable price. I used Icelandair and paid $414 for round-trip tickets (which was REALLY good). Other attendees used WOW Air, which sells cheaper tickets but slaps on extra fees for baggage, legroom, etc – all of which come included in Icelandair’s prices. So, make sure you do a careful comparison of both airlines’ prices if you want to visit Iceland.


      • I’ll look up those posts. I’ve lots of catching up to do.
        And thanks for the tip on the airfares. I’ll have to do a lot of research, I guess, especially on where to stay and all.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Season 2 has been really interesting so far. I’m only on Episode 6 or 7 (can’t remember right now…), but so far it’s shed a lot of light on Flint’s past, especially his relationship with Miranda and her husband Thomas. It’s also turning into one of those shows where characters are facing one obstacle after another to get what they want. The showrunners certainly know how to keep viewers in suspense.

      Thank you! Iceland was AMAAAAZING. I wish I was still there, actually. 🙂


  10. Sorry to hear that your February struggles continued past the month’s end and I’m glad that your March took a turn for the better :). I wasn’t around much (catching up on blogs as usual), but I’m looking forward to your “post-Iceland” posts.
    I also sent you a friend request on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Joanna. 🙂 I feel a lot better now, especially after the Iceland trip (which was AMAZING), but having some time to distance myself from that stress in multiple ways really helped.

      Confirmed your friend request, btw. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry for catching up so late, my dear! I hope you’re doing well ❤ I saw your comment and I was going to respond there, but since I'm here I'm hoping that things turn around for you soon, Sara! You have such a beautiful soul and I hope that the new project your working on helps you to build back that confidence! I'm here if ever you need to talk ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • No worries, Faith. You’ve needed time away from the Internet, and I completely understand why. I hope things smooth over soon, but in the meantime be strong and keep finding reasons to smile and making time to create. 🙂

      I’m doing better confidence-wise. It might still be shaky from time to time, but I can’t let that stop me. Writers have to write, after all. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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